HORSE’S MOUTH: Body Weight vs. Gas in Car


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on October 19, 2010.)

By the time you read today’s column, the new Queen of the Pasadena Rose Parade will be crowned.

For the first time in a couple of decades, a Japanese American was among those vying for the crown to be named as one of the finalists. She is Tenaya Miyoko Senzaki, a student at Pasadena High School. Whether she wins the crown or not, being a finalist is quite an accomplishment.

At least 1,000 young women vied for the 31 finalist list and from that seven, including Ms. Senzaki, were selected for the finals.

Of the 31 finalists, aside from Ms. Senzaki, were two other candidates of Asian heritage. They were Catherine Huh of La Salle High and Melody Wang of San Marino High.

I’m not sure what criteria is used to select the finalists but to survive from a list of 1,000 entries, is an accomplishment.

In the long history of the Rose Parade, only one Japanese American has worn the Rose Queen tiara.

As of this writing, with my fading memory, I couldn’t think of her name, but I’m sure it will pop into my mind after I submit this column.


I guess I take more than a passing interest in the Rose Parade every year because way back when, I rode on a float during the New Year’s Day Parade.

While it is years away from mass production, which means I won’t be able to take advantage of it, driverless cars built by Toyota, will one day take over our streets.

The experimental Toyota Prius with a funnel-like cylinder on the roof, can drive itself, using an artificial intelligence software that can sense anything near the car and mimic the decisions made by a human driver.

With someone behind the wheel to take control if something goes awry, the test cars have driven 1,000 miles without human intervention.

Gee, too bad it won’t be ready for a few more years. Imagine, jumping in the car and going to Las Vegas without having to actually drive for the entire distance.

If it were available today, I’d probably drive to Vegas once a week.

Oh well, if I drove to Vegas once a week, I’d probably have to pawn the vehicle to cover my losses in the casino. So, instead of a driverless car, it would become a fundless driver.


Touching on the matter of driving to Vegas, I asked a number of friends who are Vegas fans if the shorter drive to Indian casinos have changed their number of visits to Vegas.

Most of them told me that they do go to the Indian casinos occasionally, but it doesn’t take the place of Vegas.

“The short drive doesn’t really change my Vegas schedules,” they all tell me.

So it is safe to assume that Vegas hasn’t really been affected by the Indian casinos.

This is not the case with Reno, often referred to as the “biggest little city in the world.”

Indian casinos have really taken a toll on Reno. In the last year, gambling revenues in Reno have declined 30 percent, which means that revenues in the Indian casinos have skyrocketed in Northern California with a revenue of $7.3 billion last year.

Man, $7.3 billion isn’t exactly hay.

A number of Reno casinos have closed and gone out of business.

The Indian casinos doing the most damage to Reno are located just north of Sacramento.

If my sister, who lives in Mountain View, is an example of casino visitors, I can believe that Reno is in deep trouble.

She used to be a Reno regular but never goes there any more, opting for the Indian casinos. And she says she has better luck at the Indian casinos than she did when she was a Reno regular.

Me? Yeah, I take the one-hour drive to Pechanga, but like everyone else, it really never takes the place of Vegas.


It’s time to brag.

The Sunday L.A. Times Calendar Section carried a full-page ad for Producer Clint Eastwood’s new film, “Hereafter,” which opened in three Los Angeles area theaters.

Since I know that my nephew, James Murakami, is on the staff of Eastwood’s Production Company, I glanced at the bottom of the ad to see if he was involved in the film.

Yup. There it was, “James Murakami, Production Designer.”

As some of you may recall, my nephew was nominated for an Oscar on one of Eastwood’s past films. He didn’t win the Oscar but just being nominated was something to boast about.

Perhaps one of Rafu’s staffers can interview him and do a story on his career. If a staffer wants to do a story on him, I can set up the interview. He lives in Santa Monica so it wouldn’t require much traveling.

At any rate, here are some of the comments made about Eastwood’s new film:

“Hereafter is something to savor.” “Exhilarating, Eastwood is a master.” “Thoroughly provoking and compelling.” “Hereafter is alive with the power of great moviemaking.”

It was the closing night selection for the 48th New York Film Festival.

As I may have mentioned when James was nominated for an Oscar, I am continually amazed since I watched him grow up from his childhood days many, many years ago.

It’s a classic example of never knowing what is in the future for people.


Saw an article in San Francisco’s publication, “Nikkei West” in which there was mention of the Japanese section at the Oak Hill Memorial Park in San Jose.

The reason it caught my eye is both of my parents are buried there.

The article is about the sale of a cemetery plot in what is described as “the most beautiful and desirable location on the Japanese section under beautiful Oak trees. Asking price is $40,000.

Gosh, I can’t imagine a price like that but I guess with the cost of everything going up in that area of Northern California, it’s a sign of the times.


Since I travel a lot well, maybe I should make that to read, “I used to travel a lot”), I frequently use the public restrooms. I often wonder how many who use public restrooms wash their hands after they are finished.

According to a recent survey, 85 percent wash their hands in public restrooms. The survey says men are worse than women in that 77 percent of men scrub up, as compared to 93 percent of women.

Oh my gosh, I must be struggling to fill my column space if I have to throw in a subject like washing hands in the restrooms.

And you might be right.


Those of us who drive into Little Tokyo find that one of the biggest problems is finding parking spots on the street. However, with the installing of new meters, there are some things motorists must be aware of.

The new meters take coins, credit or debit cards. Now comes the part motorists should be alert to:

If the new meters indicate that it is “Out of Order” should the motorist park at the meter?

Under the old meters, the city usually did not cite cars parked in front  of a broken meter.

Now if the meter is flashing, “Out of Order,” it may begin to function once you leave your car in the space.

So, the parking officer comes along sees your car in front of a meter which now reads, “Expire.”  The motorist will receive a ticket since the motorist saw only the “Failed” sign on the meter and didn’t put in a coin.

Kind of confusing. Now when I park at the new meters, I am aware of what can happen if the meter is broken. I don’t park there and keep looking until I find one that is functioning because parking tickets are more costly than putting your car in a parking lot, even if the parking lot is now charging exorbitant fees.


Needless to  say, when someone uses the term, “Island Paradise,” the first place which comes to mind is the Hawaiian Islands.

Perhaps it’s a misnomer.

Consider this. In Hawaii there are about 130 suicides a year, according to the Dept. of Health statistics. There’s about one every three days

And for every suicide fatality, there are about seven attempted suicides across the State.

According to the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey data, Hawaii’s high school students had the highest self-reported prevalence of considering suicide and attempting suicide in the nation.

So can Hawaii really be labeled as “Island Paradise” when so many contemplate taking their own life?

Sounds more like “Island Hell.”


The Nisei Union Church, photo taken Easter Sunday in 1940.

Sometime back, I used in my column a letter from George Taniguchi (no, not the former jockey) who lives in O’Fallon, IL.

Taniguchi wanted to know if there were any Nisei who lived in Japan before World War II

Well, Michiko Washlow said she lived in Tokyo during the war and had a photo of Nisei who lived there and belonged to the Nisei Union Church.

She sent me the photo and said I could print  it and maybe, Taniguchi is in the photo taken on Easter Sunday in 1940.

Perhaps Taniguchi can spot himself in the photo.

Gee, I didn’t realize  there were so many Nisei living in Japan in prewar Tokyo?

Oh well, live and learn.

If Taniguchi recognizes himself in the photo, I hope he will let me know.

Washlow would like to know so perhaps she can get in touch with him and, perhaps, chat about the old days in Tokyo.


Let me return to Hawaii as a topic in this segment of my column.

It’s about a Nisei from the Islands named Arnold Hiura who recently published a book entitled, “Kau Kau: Cuisine and Culture in the Hawaiian Islands.” Hiura gave a lecture on Hawaiian food in San Francisco

“Kau kau” is the Island word for food.

Since it seems like many of the folks in the Islands pack a lot of weight on their  bodies, perhaps Hawaiian food should be renamed, “cow, cow.”

I know when I spend about 10 days in Hawaii (Maui), I came home weighing 5 to 7 pounds more than when I left Gardena. That’s because one of my favorite activities when I’m in the Islands is going to restaurants and feasting on “kau kau.”

Needless to say, my two brothers-in-law were sumo wrestlers in Hawaii. I guess if I lived there, I might have been a sumo wrester, too.

Heck, I don’t have to live in Hawaii to gain weight.

Would you believe that back in the late 40s, I hit a high of 240 pounds. That’s 65 pounds more than i weigh today.

And would you believe that packing a lot of weight on your body can run up the cost of putting gasoline in your car.

Never thought about that.

However, doing the math makes me realize that if a motorist is packing, say, 200 pounds vs. 160 pounds, that’s an extra 40 pounds which must affect the gas mileage.

Okay, fatso.


When watching TV, be it sport events or the evening news, I notice that the Korean car maker Hyundai runs more and more commercials. And it is said that the Korean car is fast catching up to the Japanese cars as far as sales is concerned.

However, it is the strength of the Japanese yen which is giving Hyundai the opportunity to match the Japanese cars in sales.

The yen’s strength is making Japanese cars a bit more costlier than their counterpart Korean autos.

Never thought about it in this way.

Of course, when I come to a stop sign and wait for it to change, I have a chance to look around to see the cars around me.

From my observation, Toyotas, Hondas and Nissans, still outnumbers the Hyundai by a large margin.

In fact, I rarely see a Hyundai surrounded by Japanese models.

By the way, where is Hyundai’s national headquarters in the U.S. located?

I know that both Toyota and Honda have their national headquarters in Torrance.

Yes, I drive a Toyota Avalon and my second car is a Dodge Caravan.


Since I’m a writer (never mind if I’m a good or bad one), I found the following contribution from a reader entitled, “You Think English is Easy” has a laugher tone to it. See if you agree. Try the following:

1, The bandage was wound around the wound.

2. The farm was used to produce produce.

3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4. We must polish the Polish furniture.

5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8. A bass was painted on the head of a bass drum

9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10. I did not object to the object.

11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13. They were too close to the door to close it

14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer lie.

16. To help with the planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18.Upon seeing a tear in the painting, I shed a tear.

19. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friends?

Let’s face it, English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger. Neither apple or pine is in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.

How can a slim chance and a fat chance  be the same while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites.

And, why doesn’t Buick rhyme with quick?

Well, as the Japanese might put it,  “Gai-ko-ku-go wa mu-zu-ka-shi desu ne?

Thanks to a reader for the foregoing.


George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.


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